« PreviousContinue »
The Callender, right glad to find
His friend in merry pin,
Return'd him not a single word,
But to the house went in.
Whence straight he came with hat and wig,
A wig that flow'd behind,
A hat not much the worse for wear,
Each comely in its kind.
He held them up, and in his turn
Thus show'd his ready wit, -
My head is twice as big as yours,
They therefore needs must fit.
But let me scrape the dirt away
That hangs upon your face;
And stop and eat, for well you may
Be in a hungry case.
Said John, It is my wedding-day,
And all the world would stare,
If wife should dine at Edmonton
And I should dine at Ware. So turning to his horse, he said,
I am in haste to dine,
'Twas for your pleasure you came here,
You shall go back for mine.
Ah luckless speech, and bootless boast !
For which he paid full dear;
For while he spake, a braying ass
Did sing most loud and clear;
Whereat his horse did snort as he
Had heard a lion roar,
And gallop'd off with all his might
As he had done before.
Away went Gilpin, and away
Went Gilpin's hat and wig; He lost them sooner than at first,
For why ? they were too big. Now Mistress Gilpin, when she saw
Her husband posting down
Into the country far away,
She pull’d out half a crown ; And thus unto the youth she said
That drove them to the Bell, This shall be yours when you bring back
My husband safe and well. The youth did ride, and soon did meet
John coming back amain,
Whom in a trice he tried to stop
By catching at his rein.
But not performing what he meant,
And gladly would have done,
The frighted steed he frighted more,
And made him faster run.
Away went Gilpin, and away
Went post-boy at his heels,
The post-boy's horse right glad to miss
The lumbering of the wheels.
Six gentlemen upon the road
Thus seeing Gilpin fly,
With post-boy scampering in the rear,
They raised the hue and cry:
Stop thief ! stop thief! a highwayman !
Not one of them was mute,
And all and each that pass'd that way
Did join in the pursuit.
And now the turnpike gates again
Flew open in short space,
The toll-men thinking as before
That Gilpin rode a race.
And so he did, and won it too !
For he got first to town,
Nor stopp'd till where he had got up
He did again get down.
Now let us sing, Long live the king,
And Gilpin long live he,
And when he next doth ride abroad,
May I be there to see !
“ Ah miser, Quantâ laboras in Charybdi!” Hur. lib. i. Ode 27.
Airy del Castro was as bold a knight
As ever earn'd a lady's love in fight.
Many he sought, but one above the rest
His tender heart victoriously impress’d :
In fairy-land was born the matchless dame,
The land of dreams, Hypothesis her name.
There Fancy nursed her in ideal bowers,
And laid her soft in amaranthine flowers ;
Delighted with her babe, the enchantress smiled,
And graced with all her gifts the favourite child.
Her woo'd Sir Airy, by meandering streams,
In daily musings and in nightly dreams;
With all the flowers he found, he wove in haste
Wreaths for her brow, and girdles for her waist ;
His time, his talents, and his ceaseless care
All consecrated to adorn the fair;
No pastime but with her he deign’d to take,
And,-if he studied, studied for her sake.
And, for Hypothesis was somewhat long,
Nor soft enough to suit a lover's tongue,
He call'd her Posy, with an amorous art,
And graved it on a gem, and wore it next his heart.
But she, inconstant as the beams that play
On rippling waters in an April day, *
This couplet seems to have been suggested by those lines in Virgil, which Cowper soon afterwards placed as a motto in the titlepage of his first volume. And this, with a few slighter coincidences, might have led to the discovery of the author when that volume came ont.
With many a freakish trick deceived his pains,
To pathless wilds and unfrequented plains
Enticed him from his oaths of knighthood far,
Forgetful of the glorious toils of war.
'Tis thus the tenderness that love inspires
Too oft betrays the votaries of his fires;
Borne far away on elevated wings,
They sport like wanton doves in airy rings,
And laws and duties are neglected things.
Nor he alone address'd the wayward fair;
Full many a knight had been entangled there.
But still, whoever woo'd her or embraced,
On every mind some mighty spell she cast.
Some she would teach (for she was wondrous wise,
And made her dupes see all things with her eyes)
That forms material, whatsoe'er we dream,
Are not at all, or are not what they seem;
That substances and modes of every kind
Are mere impressions on the passive mind;
And he that splits his cranium, breaks at most
A fancied head against a fancied post :
Others, that earth, ere sin had drown'd it all,
Was smooth and even as an ivory ball;
That all the various beauties we survey,
Hills, valleys, rivers, and the boundless sea,
Are but departures from the first design,
Effects of punishment and wrath divine.
She tutor'd some in Dædalus's art,
And promised they should act his wildgoose part,
On waxen pinions soar without a fall,
Swift as the proudest gander of them all.
But fate reserved Sir Airy to maintain The wildest project of her teeming brain; The wedlock is not rigorous as supposed, But man, within a wider pale enclosed, May rove at will, where appetite shall lead, Free as the lordly bull that ranges o'er the mead ; That forms and rites are tricks of human law, As idle as the chattering of a daw; That lewd incontinence, and lawless rape, Are marriage in its true and proper shape ;
That man by faith and truth is made a slave,
The ring a bauble, and the priest a knave.
Fair fall the deed! the knight exulting cried,
Now is the time to make the maid a bride!
'T was on the noon of an autumnal day, October hight, but mild and fair as May; When scarlet fruits the russet hedge adorn, And floating films envelop every thorn ; When gently as in June, the rivers glide, And only miss the flowers that graced their side ; The linnet twitter'd out his parting song, With many a chorister the woods among ; On southern banks the ruminating sheep. Lay snug and warm ;-'t was summer's farewell Propitious to his fond intent there grew (peep. An arbour near at hand of thickest yew, With many a boxen bush, close clipt between, And phillyrea of a gilded green.
But what old Chaucer's merry page befits,
The chaster muse of modern days omits.
Suffice it then in decent terms to say,
She saw,—and turn’d her rosy cheek away.
Small need of prayer-book or of priest, I ween,
Where parties are agreed, retired the scene,
Occasion prompt, and appetite so keen.
Hypothesis (for with such magic power
Fancy endued her in her natal hour)
From many a steaming lake and reeking bog,
Bade rise in haste a dank and drizzling fog,
That curtain'd round the scene where they reposed,
And wood and lawn in dusky folds enclosed.
Fear seized the trembling sex; in every grove
They wept the wrongs of honourable love.
In vain, they cried, are hymeneal rites,
Vain our delusive hope of constant knights ;
The marriage bond has lost its power to bind,
And flutters loose, the sport of every wind.
The bride, while yet her bride's attire is on,
Shall mourn her absent lord, for he is gone,
Satiate of her, and weary of the same,
To distant wilds, in quest of other game.